CHENNAI: It’s the holidays. People who are travelling home would have booked their tickets months in advance, especially if they’d cashed in on SpiceJet’s almost-monthly sales.
But all the misfortune that has befalled the Kalanidhi Maran-promoted airline over the last 30 days, has not just been detrimental to their numbers - it has worked wonders for their competitors.
One of the major beneficiaries of SpiceJet’s season of cancellations has been national air carrier Air India. Misery loves company. Unfortunately, SpiceJet’s momentary misfortune has not found kinship with the ever-struggling Maharaja. The airline proudly proclaimed that in the first half of December, they had increased their domestic traffic by 15% to carry a whopping 35,100 passengers every day.
“The domestic load factor has shot up to 85% and some routes like Bengaluru and Kolkata are even seeing 92%, despite them being big flights,” said an Air India spokesperson.
One of the reasons why AI’s number have ballooned is because they are often the only airline to operate to a few tier-II destinations, other than SpiceJet.
Indigo has been the next major benefactor. Though their numbers haven’t been announced yet, insiders have said that almost all their flights have been flying full, courtesy SpiceJet cancellations, “People began to double book with us when this trouble started and our slots are almost the same as SpiceJet. So, they have not much rescheduling to do,” said a source in the airline. Indigo, which holds a lion’s share of the Indian domestic market with 29% of the traffic attributed to them, has surged and cashed in on SpiceJet’s misfortune by aggressively keeping rates at level, and is not overcharging.
After two days of being grounded, SpiceJet finally reached a state of reasonable operational normalcy. “As of 3 pm on Sunday, we have operated 125 flights with an on-time performance of 91.3%. We will operate 105 more today,” tweeted their COO Sanjiv Kapoor, signalling that their sights were set on the target of 230 flights operated daily.